I have always looked up to and admired the business greats of our times. People like Ray Croc, Sam Walton, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, Phil Knight. People who started businesses which are not only enormously successful, they have shaped the world and even our culture.
Reading these stories, I was inspired by how they started their businesses in garages and built them into international empires. But underneath my fascination and enthusiasm, there was a much quieter voice speaking to me. A quiet, dark voice that said: “These people had special advantages you do not have. You will never do what they did.” And whether I spoke those words aloud or not, I secretly believed them.
Fast forward 10 years. Recently I finished reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill. Aside from being a great practical and inspirational read, I discovered something important hidden in the pages that changed the way I view the business greats, and most importantly, how I view myself.
What I realized was: There is nothing magic or unreachable about what they did. They simply went out and actually did it.
Think about that for a moment. Everybody praises the greats for their uncanny talent for leadership, their ability to seize an opportunity, their vision, and their strategic prowess. But were they born with that? Did they fly out of the womb doing million dollar deals, managing employees, growing their investments?
Of course not. They were born with the exact same tools that I have—a brain, a heartbeat, a mouth, eyes, ears, hands and feet. These are the basic tools they used to build the greatest businesses of our time.
But is that enough? Not exactly. There is one secret ingredient they all possessed which sets them apart from everybody else. And that ingredient is courage. The ability to overcome their fears and personal limitations in order to reach their dreams. This ability is what steered their basic tools in the direction they needed to go in order to achieve success.
The only thing that can stop you from doing anything is your own fear. For me, one of my fears was that I would never accomplish what the business greats have done. Partly because I believed I wasn’t good enough, and partly because maybe I had a fear of success.
So the next time you sit down and read a story about how a business great built an empire and changed the world, remember a few things. First, they did it with the exact same tools that you have. Second, they didn’t do it overnight. Most stories written after their success make it seem like what they did was effortless. It’s pretty difficult to sum up a lifetime of hard work into a 5-10 page story without glossing over a few of the less inspiring details. And third, the only thing that can stop you from doing what they did is your own personal fear.